Sitting in front of the Grand Canyon with a Paper Bag Over Your Head

Sometimes I hear quotations that open my eyes to a great truth about God’s word. These often come from unlikely places.

I was reading in Prevention magazine about wellness. This column is often permeated with New Age teaching so I am often wary of it. However, the author talked about a concept that I am going to change a little. I must say that the person quoted a Buddhist — I do not agree with Buddhism in any form, however — no one is wrong all of the time and I believe this quote has a context for us Christians.

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“With ignorance, you’re sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon with a paper bag over your head. Each of the three poisons has the power to capture you so completely that you don’t even perceive what’s in front of you.”
From Start Where You Are : A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron, Copyright 1994, Shambhala Publications.

In this case I must agree — so many of us are caught up in our daily living — seeing this little life and thinking that this is all it is — we sit in front of the Grand Canyon with little paper bags over our heads.

We decorate our paper bags, we make a home in our paper bags, we get comfortable, laugh, cry and enjoy them. However, when we die, for us Christians, we will see the grandeur of eternity open up before us and many of us will think — WOW! I was so caught up in the daily grind — I missed it!

However, it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

The fact as it is — we have not seen, we cannot understand, we cannot fathom God’s eternal glory. Just as one with a bag over her head cannot fathom the grandeur of the Grand Canyon.

We must have faith in what is not seen — Jesus, “our living hope” (1 Peter 1:3)

I’d like to take this analogy one step further — suppose we had a mask on and over that a paper bag with tiny pinprick holes in it as we sat in front of the Grand Canyon. I think this is more analogous to our Christian walk.

Jesus often talked of having eyes but being unable to see and having ears but being unable to hear. I believe that when we become a Christian that Jesus’ healing of Paul is similar and something like scales falls off of our spiritual eyes and we can see — just a little! So we become Christians and our Father walks up behind us, reaches into the bag and removes the mask — leaving the bag in place for a while longer. Like in 1 Corinthians 2.

We can see tiny glimpses of the amazing grandeur of eternity through pinprick holes and that is enough to fill us with joy overwhelming! The more I study His word and learn from fellow Christians — the more tiny pinpricks of eternity I may glimpse.

In fact, each time I open God’s word, I feel I am gazing through another tiny slit in the paper bag of this fleshly life. And like the paper bag, when this life is over and my body is crumpled up and thrown away — my eternal soul which is imperishable emerges from its wimpy, earthly housing of paper into a permanent, strong housing of my eternal persona!

We cannot comprehend the greatness before us!

We cannot fathom the amazing sights we will see and songs we will sing!

Although I often joke that I will be cleaning toilets in heaven — a toilet in heaven would be far better than a throne in hell I can guarantee that!

I am so excited and encouraged and commit myself not to get too focused on the trappings of this life (particularly as this paper bag gets more wrinkles yearly!) I would rather focus on the eternal things — other souls along the trip and the eternity set before me!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:5

Keep the faith!

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